Marin Co. woman trapped in Haiti amidst chaos

November 18, 2010 11:39:07 PM PST
A Marin County woman is caught in the middle of the cholera epidemic in Haiti and the riots it is causing. She's been to Haiti many times as a volunteer but this time, she can't get out.

The streets are so dangerous right now in Haiti, relief workers say it isn't safe to go outside, but Myriam Kaplan Pasternak says this anger isn't surprising.

"I don't care for way doing it, people are hurt, but I do understand they've kind of reached the end of their rope," she said via telephone from Port-au-Prince.

Kaplan Pasternak, her husband and their two daughters were actually in Haiti during the earthquake and now she's there again, during rioting over the cholera outbreak, and suspicions that UN workers brought the disease into the country.

"I am relatively safe here in the hotel. The biggest problem would be if I tried to leave, you know, depending on where you go, you could get caught in the middle of the crossfire," she said.

Even though the Haitians are targeting their frustrations at relief workers, she's not worried.

"They're not after me, I just happen to be here trapped. The people who are rioting don't care that I'm here or not here completely irrelevant," Kaplan Pasternak said.

At her Marin County home, life continues as normal. Her 13-year-old daughter Kyla made plans to see the new Harry Potter movie, while her big sister took ballet lessons. Mark Pasternak says they're all confident Myriam will be OK.

I believe in what she's doing. I believe in her, I believe in her passion," he said.

What he and his wife are really worried about are the people of Haiti.

"We really want to see people understand that this country of Haiti has been getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop for a couple of hundred years and it's not their fault," Pasternak said.

"This is my eleventh trip here and yes I will definitely come back. It's not always like this, this is just an exception," Kaplan Pasternak said.

Kaplan Pasternak works with the Farmer to Farmer program. She teaches people in Haiti how to raise rabbits for food and income. She expects her reunion with her family to be an emotional one this time when she finally gets home, but she says she will definitely go back to Haiti.


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